Disease doesn’t stop Sam’s dreams
At first glance Sam Stevens is like any other child.
He wants to be a paleontologist, plays midfield for a school football team and looks forward to his next family skiing trip.
But the 10-year-old lives with incurable and deadly condition cystic fibrosis.
“I don’t think it’s bad like other diseases,” he says.
“It can be annoying - really annoying – when I get puffed or wheezy when I run. But I don’t get scared unless I’m really sick.”
Cystic fibrosis is hereditary, mainly affects the lungs and results in a lowered immune system.
It carries a life expectancy of about 30, though some sufferers live to 40 and 50.
About one baby in 3000 has the condition, requiring a lifetime of treatment.
Sam’s mum only found out her son had cystic fibrosis when he was 15 months old.
Though he was often sick and grumpy as a baby, it wasn’t until after hospital visits for severe stomach cramps that Sam was tested for the condition.
Mrs Stevens was shocked to get the news but glad he could finally get treatment.
“I thought I was going to be told I’m a neurotic mother and there’s nothing wrong,” she says.
“Now my basic hope is for a cure.”
She is determined to make Sam’s quality of life as high as possible.
He plays sport at school, has physiotherapy twice daily and does karate.
Often he can be found at the beach doing fossil excavations with friends, preparing for his dream job as a paleontologist.
“We try to do as much normal stuff as we can. He gets very shirty when the condition does restrict him,” Mrs Stevens says. “Keeping active improves his quality of life and life expectancy.”
Sam goes on regular trips and appears in television adverts as a Cure Kids ambassador.
He recently attended the Great Adventure Race and greeted participants at the end of their gruelling six to eight-hour trek.
The event raised $593,000 for research into life-threatening children’s illnesses.
“We just want to make people more aware of cystic fibrosis,” says Mrs Stevens.
“We want people to know these things are out there and that these children have it.”
Still smiling: Sam Stevens won’t let cystic fibrosis stop him doing the things he loves.